3 productivity traps and 1 different approach

written by Erica Quam

There are tons of books, blogs, and articles these days on productivity. There are plenty of things you can buy: day-planners, pomodoro timers, and an endless array of apps...all in an effort to try and help the most driven people in the world get more done.

Though a few of these tactics and products may be effective...there are a few traps people fall into. The most important piece I've discovered is the real productivity secret lies within you. 


The belief that managing your time is only the key to being productive

The Reality

Running on the hamster wheel and checking off the boxes on the to-do list isn't enough!

We've reached an age where we have to get better at managing ourselves...along with managing our time. We can "get stuff done" all day long and arrive at the end of the day feeling even further behind.

Productivity has more to do with YOU: and learning how to best manage your mental, emotional, & physical energy.

Make a simple list for yourself - using those 3 categories: mental, emotional, physical. Ask yourself:

  • What drains you?
  • What fills you up?

How can you use this information to better manage yourself and arrive at the end of your day feeling grateful for what you've accomplished and ready for tomorrow?

Protect yourself by setting limits and nourish yourself with better self care. 


The idea that being productive means being in-motion at all times.

The Reality

Eventually, you'll hit the wall. You can't will yourself to keep it up. Even if you think you can...you can't. The stress that builds up by being in constant motion will eventually take its toll on your body. It's like fighting the woolly mammoths back in the stone-age. Your brain doesn't know the difference between real stress and perceived stress. The fight or flight response will kick in and take over.

When you actually take breaks and include down-time for yourself throughout the day, you will actually be more productive. 

What kind of downtime?

  • Meditation - or just observing the breath
  • Going for a short walk - to get some fresh air
  • Doing a restorative yoga pose - like legs up the wall
  • Listening to a song you like - or looking at a fun photo
  • Writing a simple gratitude list - or even thinking about it

Instead of being on the go all day long, see if you can splice in little bits of time for yourself.


The notion that big dreams can only be fulfilled when you have big amounts of time.

The Reality

One response I hear from coaches all the time is, "I don't have time for that." Whether that's a new hobby that they want to start, making time to connect with friends, or even taking the time to read an actual book.

You can do some amazing things when you chunk up your time!

Do you have something you want to do that seems so overwhelming...you can't even think of starting it?

Set aside time for something you want to do. Maybe it's 15 minutes each day or 1 hour each week. Set a timer. When the timer goes off, stop. By doing this, you train your brain to focus and make the most use of that time. Genius is born in limitation. 

People write books by committing to writing just 15-minutes a day. Most writers rarely get to take big chunks of time away from everyday life and just write. It's how well they manage those smaller windows. What is it for you?

A different approach

The main idea here is that managing yourself is more important than getting stuff done, constantly doing things, or never leaving yourself time for your dreams.

Which of these 3 traps do you fall victim to and what will you try this week? Share in the comments below.